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WEST BOYLSTON-Norman J. Dono, 89, passed away Friday, March 24, 2023, in Notre Dame Long Term Care surrounded by his family.
His wife of 51 years, Germaine “Geri” (Angelo) Dono passed away in 2008.
He leaves a son, Howard S. Dono and his wife, Karen, of West Boylston, their children, Jason and his wife, Christina, Kristin and her fiancé, Matt, and Natasha; a daughter, Anthy S. Angelo of West Boylston and her son, Jacob and his partner, Jordan, and their children, his two great-grandsons, Montgomery and Ashby, and her daughter, Katarina and her fiancé, Jacx; a daughter Rebecca Dono Healy and her husband, Patrick, of Boylston and their children Gwendolyn and Fiona “Ember”; siblings, Danny Dono and his wife, Doris of Charlton, Arthur Dono of Dudley; and many beloved nephews and nieces. He was brother to Loretta Merty, her husband Theodore, and brother-in-law to Geri’s nine Angelo siblings. He was born in Worcester, son of Nicholas and Vrisdha (Dennis) Dono, immigrants from Albania.
Norman had several loves in his life: his family, his Albanian Church and heritage, woodworking, and the Army. He began woodworking in boyhood and graduated from Worcester Boys Trade High School as a carpenter. Norman worked his entire life, beginning with a boyhood paper route where he was recognized as a T&G Ace Carrier with over 100 customers, to his last job where he worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.in the carpentry shop at St. Vincent Hospital, then off in his van to build custom cabinetry for his own clients until late at night. Norman also taught furniture refinishing at Worcester Night Life and at Assabet After Dark.
He joined the Army during the Korean War and was most proud of becoming a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. Retiring as a Master Sergeant after 23 years combined service in the Army and National Guard, Norman continued his involvement serving as President of 82nd Airborne Division Association – LTG Gavin Chapter, as an active volunteer helping convert the Worcester’s National Guard Armory into the veteran’s shelter run by Veteran’s Inc., and as a member of American Legion Post 204.
Norman was a member of St. Mary’s Assumption Albanian Orthodox Church. From altar boy to youth basketball team to the dance in Southbridge where he met Geri, the church was central to his life. He physically donated his time and talent to build the wooden furnishings and decorative moldings that adorn the new St. Mary’s where his children were married, grandchildren were baptized and where his funeral service will be held. He was inducted into the Sons of St. Mary’s Hall of Fame.
A non-stop joker and smooth dancer, he loved to be the life of the party, especially those at his backyard pool. Norman and Geri traveled across the U.S and to more than a dozen countries. A highlight was a trip to England and France for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day where they met President Clinton. Another was a family trip to Albania in 1983 which reunited his mother and aunts with their last surviving sister for the first time since immigrating to America.
The first 58 years of Norman’s life were active, industrious, and involved. That changed when a life altering stroke left Norman unable to speak and paralyzed on his right side. Ever the trooper, Norman forged a new life over the next 31 years, along with his wife and children who were determined to keep him in his home and part of his community. He learned to communicate with his camera, through gestures, and by sharing his photo albums. He mailed his photos around the world. He tended the yard, had the best suntan, and showed off his 82nd Airborne insignia. He loved seeing his grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up. He lived a rich life and enriched all our lives with his presence and perseverance.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 30, in St. Mary’s Assumption Albanian Orthodox Church, 535 Salisbury St. Burial will be in Mount Vernon Cemetery. Calling hours will be from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, in Fay Brothers Funeral Home, 1 West Boylston St and from 9-10 a.m. at St. Mary’s Thursday, March 30. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to his St. Mary’s Assumption, Notre Dame Long Term Care Center, or Veteran’s Inc.
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